The U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service has placed the rusty patched bumble bee, once common in 28 states and two Canadian provinces, on the endangered species list, the first bee to receive such protection in the contiguous 48 states.
Populations of the bee, which thrived in the grasslands and prairies of the upper Midwest and Northeast, have plummeted by 87 percent in recent decades, leaving scattered populations in 13 states and one Canadian province. The Fish & Wildlife Service said that without protection under the federal Endangered Species Act, the rusty patched bumble bee faces extinction. Scientists say the bee’s numbers have fallen sharply because of loss of habitat, disease and parasites, pesticide use, and a changing climate that affects the abundance of the flowers the bees depend upon. The service said it will work with state and local partners to restore habitat and take other steps to rebuild populations of the bee, a pollinator important to many crops and plants.